Warfighters: History of the term?
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Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
re Switzerland on 03/02/2010 17:53:19 MST Print View

Yes, 'all' Swiss males are meant to do National Service.
Yes, All servicemen keep their issued weapon at home.
BUT...
If you commit a crime in Switzerland using your military weapon, you don't get a civil trial. You get a swift brief Court Martial. I don't think you get a lawyer. And they (the military courts) don't hold back.

I lived there for some years.

Cheers

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: "Warfighters: History of the term?" on 03/02/2010 17:54:17 MST Print View

"I probably ought to stay off some of these threads."

Now where's the fun in that!

"I don't have the patience, or skill, to write a long post accurately expressing my thoughts"

Obviously hasn't stopped me or a bunch of others.......

David Lutz
(davidlutz)

Locale: Bay Area
"Warfighters: History of the term?" on 03/02/2010 17:57:23 MST Print View

OK, I'm in!!

obx hiker
(obxcola) - MLife

Locale: Outer Banks of North Carolina
Russia? on 03/02/2010 20:05:57 MST Print View

Just a little additional info: It is arguable the only reason Russia wasn't destroyed by Germany was a little known US program called lend/lease. (Old Joe never paid anything back... I believe the British paid their last installment fairly recently) Of course had Germany prevailed maybe all Europe would now speak German.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Russia? on 03/02/2010 20:19:30 MST Print View

": It is arguable the only reason Russia wasn't destroyed by Germany was a little known US program called lend/lease."

I wonder how much Lend/Lease materiel got to the USSR?

Bill Fornshell
(bfornshell) - MLife

Locale: Southern Texas
Re: Re: Russia? on 03/02/2010 22:15:42 MST Print View

Question from Ben:
"I wonder how much Lend/Lease materiel got to the USSR?"

$12 billion in Lend-Lease aid to Soviet. This is very easy to find, just do a web search.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Russia on 03/02/2010 22:44:11 MST Print View

"$12 billion in Lend-Lease aid to Soviet."

To put that into perspective, the Manhattan Project was thought to have cost Uncle Sam approximately $20 billion.

Back then, that was a lot of money.
--B.G.--

Robert Blean
(blean) - MLife

Locale: San Jose -- too far from Sierras
Re: re Switzerland on 03/02/2010 22:44:36 MST Print View

Roger,

What if one were to use that weapon for a non-crime, such as self-defense?

--MV

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: re Switzerland on 03/03/2010 02:09:32 MST Print View

> What if one were to use that weapon for a non-crime, such as self-defense?

Short answer - I don't know. But they are very logical people at times.

Cheers

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Russia? on 03/03/2010 15:08:54 MST Print View

"It is arguable the only reason Russia wasn't destroyed by Germany was a little known US program called lend/lease. (Old Joe never paid anything back"

They paid it back all right - in blood. They lost millions of troops, not to mention millions of civilians, in the process of decimating the Wehrmacht. Ask any Russian old enough to remember those terrible times, communist or non communist, and they will tell you, with moist eyes, that there was not a single family that didn't lose someone. I'd say Lend Lease was a pretty cheap price to pay for what they did. Ask them to pay it back???

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Russia? on 03/03/2010 15:39:50 MST Print View

Echoing what Tom wrote, if Russia had chosen to capitulate -- like certain other allied countries -- the death toll to American, British and remaining allies would have been much, much greater!

Also, the US did not go to war as a favor to Britain and Russia. The US went to war only after it too was attacked!

Dave T
(DaveT) - F
russia on 03/03/2010 17:02:28 MST Print View

Yeah, I think they did their part vs. Germany, both military and civilian. So... I'm not sure I wanna ask them for some cash back now.

A quick look at Wikipedia talks about:

United States
---------------------
131,000,000 population
416,000 military deaths
1,700 civilian deaths
0.32% of 1939 population dead

Soviet Union (1939 borders)
-----------------------------
168,000,000 population
8,800,000 to 10,7000,000 military deaths
12,200,000 to 14,100,000 civilian deaths
1,000,000 Jewish Holocaust deaths
perhaps 23,900,000 dead
14% of 1939 population

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Russia on 03/03/2010 17:42:14 MST Print View

Not just Russia, but Ukraine and Belarus too.

I traveled for almost 3 months in Belarus, Ukraine and Russia last year. The loss of life and wholesale destruction really boggle the mind!!

Every single town had its own "Great Patriotic War" memorial and you could always see a dozen or so fresh bouquets laid down every week end (and sometimes on week days as well).

In all three countries, they have a beautiful tradition where a wedding party -- after they're done taking pictures and all -- the bride and groom and a small entourage would head out to the local Memorial to pay their respects -- and the bride would lay down her bouquet near the eternal flame -- to say "thanks" to the dead -- many of whom were likely her own age or younger when they died defending their country. On many Saturdays in the summer, different wedding entourages would descend onto the Memorial one after another. Beautiful.

Edited by ben2world on 03/03/2010 17:44:51 MST.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Another favorite subject of mine! on 03/03/2010 20:25:50 MST Print View

Well, as some of you know I'm a military history buff. But you may NOT know that the Eastern Front of WW2 is one of my specialties.

Prepare yourselves for a 15-page manifesto, which follows...

Ahem.

Just kidding.

Actually, this IS one of my areas of interest- stemming from my once working in intelligence with a focus on the Soviet Union. (I learned Russian at the Defense Language Institute, and remember shockingly little of it, now.)

I remember when the Russians first released the Soviet figures from WW2, I noticed that they lost over a million lieutenants.

Lieutenants.

God alone knows how many privates they really lost. But the numbers are truly staggering.

All indications are that the Soviets didn't find a lot of lend-lease very helpful. They absolutely HATED any weapon system we sent them, with a few exceptions. They called the Grant tank "a coffin for seven brothers." What they really liked was all the TRUCKS we sent them. It gave them much better strategic mobility and logistical capability. They then went on to develop operational-level warfare into a high art form.

At their highest level of mobilization the Germans had 72 divisions on the Western Front. They had 173 divisions on the Eastern front. Most people who know anything about the subject will tell you that the the UK/US and their allies didn't win WW2. The Soviet Union did.

Granted without the western powers they might have only fought Germany back to her borders and then negotiated an armistice, but probably not. They probably could have won without us. It just might have taken until 1950. :o)

(There have always been rumors of Soviet peace overtures towards Germany.)

Edited by acrosome on 03/03/2010 20:36:27 MST.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Another favorite subject of mine! on 03/03/2010 20:37:39 MST Print View

"Most people who know anything about the subject will tell you the the US and her allies didn't win WW2. The Soviet Union did."

+1

I didn't want to get into it, but that is the unmentioned truth. Had Hitler listened to his generals, the Allies might well have lost the war. I have often wondered how things would have turned out if the Germans had concentrated on closing the Straits of Gibraltar, driving down into the Middle East, where they had many admirers in Turkey, Syria, and Iraq, and seizing the Suez Canal and the oil fields of the Middle East. Speculation, to be sure. But, still I wonder. How long then until Britain fell, depriving us of a launching pad for an invasion of the European mainland? Dean?

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Egad- who knows? on 03/03/2010 21:11:53 MST Print View

Do you mean, if Hitler hadn't attacked the USSR and had concentrated on Western Europe and the Mediterranean instead?

Well, one thing England had was one heck of a Navy. The Kriegsmarine was NEVER remotely in contention for control of the surface, there. The Bismarck, Scharnhorst, Gniesenau and the other large surface combatants terrified the British due to their possible use as commerce raiders, not because they could possibly establish sea superiority. I don't see how Germany could have closed the straights without Spain getting involved, which wasn't totally unlikely. (Spain even sent a division of "volunteers" to fight on the Eastern Front- the Azul Division.) Sea Lion was canceled for good reason (Germany lost the Battle of Britain) and after that the UK was an armed camp. An invasion would have been VERY costly. The Germans didn't lose North Africa due to lack of manpower. They lost it because the Royal Navy shut down their logistical system.

And what if they had concentrated their submarines in the straights? Well, beyond the fact that Britain would have gotten all the supplies it needed form the US, the Japanese rather effectively proved that concentrating WW2-era submarines against armed naval opponents was a fool's errand and a suicide mission. WW2-era subs were good for one thing- sinking commercial shipping. Both the Germans and the Americans proved this- the Japanese submarine force was employed against surface combatants and was utterly ineffective in that role in the big scheme of things, USS Indianapolis notwithstanding. (The Japanese also refused to adopt anything approaching a real convoy system, which helped American submariners immensely...)

Incidentally a lot of historians will tell you that Montgomery really wasn't an outstanding general. (My apologies to my Commonwealth bretheren, but at the very least he was an insufferable primadonna.) In fact the biggest reason that he got command in Africa was because no one else would take the job- it was considered lost. But then the Germans suffered a number of reverses (primarily logistical, as I mentioned) just BEFORE Monty took over, and he rode them to victory. Not to mention that Rommel severely neglected his disease prevention strategies, and sometimes had HALF his force rendered combat ineffective due to illness.

BUT there are historians who suspect that Stalin was actually planning to attack Germany! Just not in June of 1941... They had started a huge modernization plan (thus the T-34) and general military buildup when Germany invaded. So, maybe it wouldn't have made ANY difference.

There has been a LOT of fiction (and even serious scholarship) written about WW2 what-if scenarios. So much, in fact, that the subject is now rather a weary one.

Edited by acrosome on 03/03/2010 22:02:57 MST.

David Lutz
(davidlutz)

Locale: Bay Area
"Warfighters: History of the term?" on 03/03/2010 21:20:58 MST Print View

Dean -

I've always read that Hitler's efforts on the Eastern front were doomed from the jump for simply mathematical reasons. There was just too much territory to cover and the Russians were all too willing to sacrifice the lives of a seemingly endless numbers of soldiers.

That, and the winter.

There would be little sustainable internal pressure on Comrade Stalin to avoid large numbers of deaths. What could the population do about it?

I've always been under the impression that the Russians were no match for the Wermacht, unit-for-unit.

David Lutz
(davidlutz)

Locale: Bay Area
"Warfighters: History of the term?" on 03/03/2010 21:23:30 MST Print View

Tom -

I think the thing is, there was no "juice" for Hitler to really strategically look South.

The "juice" was in defeating Britain.

IMO.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Swinging from One Extreme to the Other? on 03/03/2010 21:34:52 MST Print View

"It is arguable the only reason Russia wasn't destroyed by Germany was a little known US program called lend/lease. "

"Most people who know anything about the subject will tell you the the US and her allies didn't win WW2. The Soviet Union did."


Wow, we swing from arguing that Lend Lease was the only thing that saved the USSR all the way to the USSR won WW2! Neither statement is true by a mile. As above, except for the trucks that gave the Soviets much-needed mobility, Lend Lease was basically a footnote in the Soviet war effort.

But let's also remember that WW2 was more than just Germany. The Soviet war effort in fighting Japan started ONLY AFTER two atomic bombs were dropped over Japan.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Re: "Warfighters: History of the term?" on 03/03/2010 21:37:33 MST Print View

On a small-unit level, yes, for most of the war the German soldiery greatly out-classed the Soviets. After all, the Soviets had the best tank in the world at the start of the war- which really took the Germans by surprise- yet the Germans with their pathetic tanks still handed them repeated defeats. (Even the French tanks far outclassed the German ones- but the French used them incorrectly, and the Blitzkrieg worked.)

Part of this was due to Stalin's recent purges of higher military leadership.

But, two points:

1) Starting from very late 1944 onward, the Soviet small-units achieved parity with and then probably slightly exceeded their German counterparts. Primarily this was because the Germans were reduced to throwing old men, cripples, and boys into the fight in Volksturm units. Also,

2) Despite the loss of their higher officers to the purges the Soviets, as I mentioned, developed operational-level warfare to an art and a science. Stalin created great Darwinian pressure on his higher commanders, and from about mid-1943 (Kursk) onward they accomplished truly amazing military feats on the strategic level. Yes, for the first couple of years the Soviets traded their sons for time, but later they just simply started kicking butt- and no one gives them credit for it. True, they still relied upon mass, but if you've got that hammer, well, use it. German intelligence sucked, yet the Soviets always had GREAT info on the Germans. They concentrated forces masterfully, and started regularly crushing the Germans. It doesn't matter if your soldiers fight twice as well as the Soviets when the Soviets have concentrated in a 10:1 advantage against you! Operationally and strategically the Soviets ran rings around the Germans starting at about the spring thaw 1943. Also, the Germans put too much confidence in their Eastern Front wonder-weapons, the Tiger and the Panther. Unfortunately for them they simply never could make enough of them, and very much misunderstood the true utility of the Tiger.

And, yes, the Germans were severely hurt by the logistical challenges from the distances involved. But I think people nonetheless tend to over-state that. If that was really the most prominent issue, then why did their 1942 and 1943 offensives fail? They had stockpiled quite enough supplies very far forward, and had changed the railroad gauge to suit them by then. (The partisan campaign's effectiveness gets overstated quite a bit, too. Mostly by the Russians, who find it very romantic. Still, that entire problem was the German's own fault. Many Belorussians and Ukrainians greeted them as liberators, then changed their tune quickly after the Germans started marching them into the woods and shooting them.)

People wonder why the Russians are paranoid. Well, nearly get wiped out by invading armies enough times and it will color your world-view...

@Ben-

From the very first moments of Pearl Harbor until VE-Day the Pacific theater was secondary to Europe, by official policy. The Japanese were insane (or rather, unbelievably desperate) to attack the US. Have you SEEN their production figures?!?! They dominated for the first six months of the war only because they were the only force in the region that was in any sort of state of readiness combined with the great distances involved, and it was all downhill after that. Not to mention that they were massively overcommited in China at the time. (Taken with a grain of salt, the Chinese were the Japanese's Soviets.) Yamamoto tried to warn his government about this. The Japanese only lasted as long as they did because we (allies) were barely trying. Obviously, that is an oversimplification, but essentially true.

I stand by my statement that the Soviets "won" WW2. Not that there weren't some close calls- they could have lost that war in several places- but their contribution by far outweighs the contribution of all the other allies combined... any way you calculate it.

Edited by acrosome on 03/03/2010 22:10:47 MST.